Gatineau Park Protection Committee Condemns 11th New House at Meech Lake
Chelsea, December 2, 2017 – The Gatineau Park Protection Committee (GPPC) is condemning the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the Liberal government for failing to stop construction of a new house at 789 Meech Lake Road.
“The NCC is showing utter and complete bad faith by allowing construction of the 132nd new house inside Gatineau Park since 1992—at the very moment it has launched renewal of its master plan for the park. The NCC’s mandate has always been to acquire all private properties in the park, but it continues to encourage construction of new houses in violation of all its policies, thereby grossly inflating their cost to taxpayers,” today said GPPC secretary Jean-Paul Murray.
“This unbridled residential proliferation is unsustainable, particularly at Meech Lake, which gets 40% of the park’s total visitorship, according to the 2010 Conservation Plan (Appendix 3–5); yet, despite this, the NCC has allowed construction of 11 new houses there since 2006,” Mr. Murray said.
The Conservation Plan is very clear about the damage private properties do to the park, underlining that they “place stress on the host environment in the form of water pollution, proliferation of cyanobacteria, habitat fragmentation and the erosion of riparian habitats,” adding that they “are inconsistent with the park’s mission,” and that steps must be taken to reduce their impact...
“And to top it all off, the Liberal government, particularly Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and MPs Willard Amos and Greg Fergus, are neglecting their fiduciary responsibility to protect this park for the benefit of present and future generations. While Ms. Joly seems at a complete loss over this issue, MPs Amos and Fergus are running from the press and refusing to comment on it, as reported by the West Quebec Post on May 13, 2016 and by Radio-Canada on July 9, 2016,” Mr. Murray said.
All park master plans written since 1952 emphasize that private lands pose serious problems to park management and must be eventually removed. As well, the most recent park plan and two NCC task forces have given highest priority to acquiring waterfront properties (see attached backgrounder).
“The cost of acquiring these properties is estimated to be about $100 million, but what will it be ten years from now, after NCC CEO Mark Kristmanson has allowed the rot to spread and countless more mansions to go up in the park and around Meech Lake?” said Mr. Murray.
“Clearly, the NCC has lost control of the issue, and time has come for the Liberal government to fulfill its commitments to protect Gatineau Park and impose a freeze on all new construction there. Furthermore, we urge Minister Mélanie Joly to show some backbone and introduce a park protection bill identical to the one Liberal MP Joyce Murray had proposed in 2013,” Mr. Murray said.
According to the GPPC, renewal of the Gatineau Park Master Plan, which began in October 2017, is an exercise and smoke and mirrors: “The NCC failed to fulfil many of the commitments set out in its 2005 Master Plan, including those on purchasing private properties, and it has packed its so-called public advisory committee on master plan renewal with park residents. Six of fourteen committee members are park residents or their very close friend. Accordingly, we see this as a cynical exercise in pulling the wool over the public’s eyes, while residents and the NCC tirelessly continue to undermine the park’s ecological integrity,” said Mr. Murray.
Information: Jean-Paul Murray, 819-827-1803; Web site: www.gatineauparc.ca.
Backgrounders on Gatineau Park private properties, the 2010 Conservation Plan and the Gatineau Park Protection Committee will be provided on request: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Debates, House of Commons, March 7, 2014, p. 3690: http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/hoc/House/412/Debates/059/HAN059-E.PDF